Difference Between 15 vs. 20 Degree Knife Edge

Do you want to know the difference between 15 and 20-degree knife edges and which level knife sharpness is better for your culinary needs?

This article is for you.

This guide will help you understand your chef knives and use them according to their intended use. Moreover, it’ll also help you with some suggestions about sharpening your knives. So, keep reading to slice better.

Key Takeaways

  • A knife sharpening angle means the knife edge’s steepness against the main blade’s face.
  • The lower the edge angle is, the sharper a knife is.
  • A 15-degree knife edge is shaper and suitable for precise tasks like slicing sushi. 
  • A 20-degree knife edge is less sharp than 15 degree knife edge, yet it provides a balance between sharpness and durability for versatile kitchen tasks. 
  • Single-bevel knives, common in Japanese cuisine, have one sharpened side, while double-bevel knives have both sides sharpened. 
  • Changing the knife’s sharpening angle from 15° to 20° or 20° to 15° is not recommended.

What Does Knife Sharpening Angle Mean?

The knife edge angle refers to its edge’s steepness against its centerline (main blade). This angle is created by holding the knife at the intended angle against the sharpening surface. 

The steeper the edge is on the sharpening stone, the lower the knife’s angle is and the sharper it is. Hence, a knife of 15 degrees means it has been sharpened at a 15-degree angle against the stone, and a 20-degree edge knife at a 20-degree angle.

15 vs 20 degree knife edge: complete difference

The sharper a knife is, the more delicate tasks it can handle. For example, a knife used for portioning veggies or butchering meats can’t be used for cutting paper-thin slices of veggies, fruits, meat, and fish. For precise slicing, you need a shaper knife (knife with a sharper edge).

When you buy a knife, its specs describe its sharpening angle. This sharpness level helps you use your knife for particular tasks and resharpen it according to the advised angle.

Difference Between 15 vs. 20 Degree Knife Edges

Before knowing the entire science of 15 and 20-degree knife edges, a quick overview of the difference between two knives’ sharpening angles is essential to brainstorming your mind.

15° Knife Edge: Sharper, Quick and Precise

A 15-degree angle knife has a steep edge of 15 degrees against its centerline, achieved by tilting it at a 15-degree angle on the sharpening surface. It’s common in Japanese knives and excels in precise tasks like slicing sushi but lacks durability for heavy-duty work.

Benefits or Pros of 15-Degree Knife Angle

  • Sharpening at 15 degrees results in a sharper knife, popular in Europe.
  • Less slicing friction enhances efficiency.
  • Ideal for paring, light slicing, peeling, and cutting sushi effortlessly.

Cons of Getting a 15 Degree Knife

  • Lacks metal support, reducing durability compared to 20-degree knives.
  • Rigid steel construction makes it more prone to brittleness.
  • Not recommended for heavy-duty tasks like filleting or chopping tough meats, as it may break or chip.

20° Knife Edge: Durable and Suitable for Heavy-Duty Tasks

A 20-degree angle, typical in Western-style knives, achieves a balanced blend of sharpness and durability. These knives have a 20-degree steep edge against the centerline, sharpened by tilting and moving against the surface at a 20° angle.

Benefits or Pros

  • Highly durable, maintaining sharpness for an extended period.
  • Longer lifespan due to more metal compared to 15-degree knives.
  • Widely considered the optimal angle, offering excellent cutting performance and strength.
  • Crafted with flexible metals, 20-degree European knives resist breaking, which is ideal for heavy-duty tasks like boning meat.
  • Versatile and adept at various cutting tasks.


  • Not suitable for slicing delicate items like sushi due to the wider cutting angle.
  • Increased friction when slicing through items compared to a 15-degree knife, making them less ideal for precise cutting.


A knife edge can be either single-beveled or double-beveled. A single-beveled edge means that only one side of the blade is sharpened, while a double-beveled edge means that both sides of the blade are sharpened.

By understanding these angles, you can choose the right tool for the job, ensuring efficient and precise cutting in your culinary adventures.

Understanding the Knife Edge (More Important Than the Knife’s Angle)

To understand a knife blade’s sharpness thoroughly, it’s essential to know about single or double-edge sharpness as well (what we know as single-bevel and double-bevel)

Here is a breakdown of each type of sharpened knife:

Single-Bevel Knife Edge is:

  • Sharpened on one side, creating a cutting bevel.
  • Found in traditional Japanese knives like the Yanagiba.
  • Extremely sharp and excels in precision tasks.
  • Thinner and flexible, designed not to break.
  • The bevel angle varies but is often steeper around 15 to 18 degrees.

Double-Bevel Knife Edge is:

  • Sharpened on both sides, forming a V-shaped edge.
  • Common in Western-style knives and some Japanese knives.
  • Safer and more durable due to thicker, stronger blades.
  • The bevel angle varies, often around 20 degrees per side.
  • Even if the sharpening angle is 15 degrees, the total is 30 degrees.
Double-Bevel Knife Edge

Simply Put

  • The sharpening angle, the knife’s steepness against the stone, is the edge angle (usually 15 or 20 degrees).
  • If both sides are sharpened at a given angle, it’s a double bevel; if one side, it’s a single bevel.
  • A double bevel means a double angle, e.g., 15+15=30 degrees or 20+20=40 degrees for the knife edge.

Concluding the Difference Between 15 and 20 Degree Knives

In simple terms, it’s like this: for Japanese or specialty knives, it’s best to use a 15-degree angle when sharpening. These knives are made from hard steel to handle a sharper angle, and the edge will stay sharp for a long time.

Now, it’s better to go with a 20-degree angle when it comes to Western-style or generic knives. These knives have slightly softer steel, so the 20-degree angle helps the edge last longer.


What Knives have 15 Degree Angle?

Most Japanese knives have 15-degree angle, like

  1. Santoku Knife
  2. Nakiri Knife
  3. Sujihiki knife
  4. Sushi Knife
  5. Gyuto Knife (Some variations)
  6. Yanagiba Knife

What Kitchen Knives have 20 Degree Angle?

Everyday kitchen knives have 20 20-degree angles. Some of these are:

  • Chef’s knife
  • Bread knife
  • Boning knife
  • Filet knife
  • Cleaver

Does a Knife’s Sharpening Angles Matter?

For an average household chef, the specifications of the blade, such as the sharpening angle, are not a concern. Most people just buy a sharp knife, and that’s it. 

Yet, as soon as you level up your culinary skills by cutting veggies, fruits, and meat for diverse and specialty recipes, you come across the concept of knives with different edges.

Does a Knife’s Sharpening Angles Matter?

For an average household chef, the specifications of the blade, such as the sharpening angle, are not a concern. Most people buy a sharp knife, and that’s it. 

Yet, as soon as you level up your culinary skills by cutting veggies, fruits, and meat for diverse and specialty recipes, you come across the concept of knives with different edges.

Do Single-Edge Knives have a Thinner Blade than a Double Edge?

Yes, single-edge knives have thinner blades than double-edge knives because they concentrate their material on one side, making for a slimmer blade. Thinner blades tend to be sharper because of less material to cut through food, resulting in cleaner cuts and better control for precision.

However, thin blades are more fragile and may need frequent sharpening compared to thicker blades, which are sturdier but not as sharp because of their extra material. So, while thin blades excel in sharpness and precision, they require more care and maintenance.

15 Degree Knife vs. 20 Degree Knife: Which is Better for You?

Knifemakers design the knife edge so they don’t tear through the food fibers but cut through cleanly. If the angle is greater, this prevents the knife from cutting more sharp cuts. Hence, a smaller angle is preferable if we require clean cutting.

As a general rule of thumb, knives with thinner angles are better, though it all depends on the use, from cutting fruits to meat to what cutting angle you prefer. If you need to slice up foods finely, a lower angle is suitable, while chopping up stuff like raw squash is better done at a larger angle.

In the end, the sharpening angle all depends on your culinary needs. By assessing them, you can make the best choice.

How Can I Find My Knife’s Angle?

The easiest way to find the angle of your knife is by going to a professional or seeing the product details provided by the manufacturers. Yet, if you can’t find your knife sharpening angle in the knife description or instructional guide, you can use the methods listed here. 

1. Marker Trick

Let’s look at the multiple ways to find the sharpening angle of your knife:

You just need a marker and a sharpening stone. It’s pretty easy to perform for beginners, and for more experienced users, you can manipulate the blade to make the angle steeper or shallower.

The way you do this is to take your knife and mark the edge with the help of a marker; if you get it in any other place, you can just clean it. Now, you need to try to take off the mark on the original edge with the help of a sharpening stone.

2. Quarter Trick

Another way you can find the exact angle is by using the quarter trick. To use this technique, you need to measure the width of your blade and a set of quarters. Then, with the help of this chart, you find the angle.

Let’s take an example of this: if you measured the width of your blade to be 1 3⁄4’’, and you need 7 quarters to get the angle right, then the angle of your knife is 16 degrees.

How Can You Sharpen Your Knife at 15 or 20 Degrees Angle without an Electric Knife Sharpener?

You can sharpen your knife by using a whetstone if you don’t have an electric sharpener. Follow the instructions given here.

  • Prepare the Whetstone: Get a Whetstone with a coarse (1000 grit) and fine (6000 grit) side. You don’t need oil for this type of stone. Before each use, soak the Whetstone in water for about 5 minutes until the bubbles slow down. This ensures it’s ready for sharpening.
  • Find the Right Angle: Hold your knife at about a 15 or 20-degree angle to the stone’s surface, depending on the knife’s actual angle.
  • Start Sharpening: Lightly slide the blade away from you, from tip to base, in a back-and-forth motion. Use gentle pressure; there’s no need to push hard. After 12 to 15 strokes, flip the knife over and repeat on the other side.
  • Switch to Fine Grit: Now, switch to the fine side (6000 grit) of the Whetstone. Add a bit more water if needed. Sharpen the blade just as you did with the coarse side, maintaining the 15-degree angle. About 10 to 12 passes on each side should suffice.
  • Test Sharpness: To check the sharpness, you can do a quick paper test or simply feel the blade. If it’s sharp enough, you’re good to go.
  • Use a Guide (Optional): Some Whetstones have a plastic guide that helps maintain the angle consistently. It’s handy if you’re new to sharpening.
  • Store Properly: After sharpening, rinse and dry the stone thoroughly and store it safely.

This simple method lets you keep your knives sharp and ready for all your cutting needs.

I hope this guide helps you understand your knife better and increase their effectiveness.

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Cashmere Muhammad
Cashmere Muhammad

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